You already know that using tobacco is not good for you. It doesn’t matter if we’re talking cigarettes, cigars, chewing tobacco, or vapes. The tar and nicotine cause many health problems in your body. What some people don’t realize is that tobacco can do a lot more than just lead to lung cancer. It can ruin your teeth and gums. Here are seven ways that using tobacco can hurt your smile.
1. You have less saliva, leading to more plaque, tartar, and tooth decay.
Whether you smoke cigarettes, smoke cigars, chew tobacco, or use vaporizers, the nicotine in these products can interfere with your ability to make saliva. Some people salivate more, but many others don’t make enough saliva. That’s a problem because your teeth and gums need saliva. It washes away some of the food particles harmful bacteria eat. This can lead to more bacteria, which leads to more plaque, tartar and tooth decay.
2. You heal more slowly, making any oral surgery recovery time much longer.
Oral surgery is never taken lightly at our Nashua, NH dental office. However, it can do amazing things for your smile. Bone grafts can make your jawbone healthier and stronger. Root canals can save your teeth. Dental implants can replace missing teeth. All of that requires oral surgery, which means you’ll need time to heal afterwards.
When you use tobacco regularly, your body heals much more slowly. It also does a worse job at fighting infection. Your gums and jawbone will give you problems for much longer, and you’ll be at a higher risk for post-surgical infections.
3. You’re at a much higher risk of oral cancer.
This one should be fairly obvious. Tobacco and cancer have repeatedly and clearly been linked no matter what form the tobacco comes in. Lung cancer is the number one problem with tobacco use, but all of that smoke goes through your mouth. Chewing tobacco stays there. Both can cause oral cancer in your cheeks, inner lip, or your gums. If you have oral cancer in your gum tissue, your teeth can fall out.
4. Grit in cigars and chewing tobacco can create worn spots in your enamel.
Tobacco is a crop. It’s grown in the soil. With cigarettes and vapes, the tobacco is heavily processed so none of that soil reaches you. However, that’s not true with cigars and chewing tobacco. Both can easily contain a bit of grit or sand that come from growing the tobacco. There’s rarely enough that you notice such grit. However, your teeth can notice. Grit in cigars and chew can scrape against your teeth, damaging the enamel. It won’t cause much damage each time, but it adds up quickly.
5. Your immune system is weaker, making it harder to deal with infections in your gums or teeth.
Using tobacco of any kind compromises your immune system. When that happens, you’re more likely to get a cold or the flu. These will take longer to get over as well. All of that can hurt your dental health since many problems there are caused by bacteria. For example, bacteria can get inside your teeth and infect the dental pulp. You would need a root canal to get rid of that. When your immune system is weak because of tobacco use, these infections can happen more frequently and be harder to remove.
6. Your gums will get irritated, increasing your risk of gum disease.
Speaking of infections, one of the more common dental problems with infection is gum disease. This starts when harmful bacteria live on the surface of your gums. They secrete acid and irritate the gum tissue. Eventually, they can get inside the tissue and infect your gums. With gum disease, your gums can bleed and you can eventually start losing your teeth. Tobacco products of all kinds can irritate your gums. Since that’s how gum disease starts, you’ll be at a higher risk of getting that disease.
7. Your teeth will get stained.
Not all of the dental problems caused by tobacco use are related to your health. Some are cosmetic. You probably started out with a full set of white teeth. Healthy enamel is naturally a translucent white color. The more you use tobacco, however, the more you leave behind tiny deposits on your teeth. These add up over time, and your teeth can soon look yellow, dark, and dirty no matter how much you brush. If you have dental work such as dental bridges or dental implants, tobacco can stain these as well.
It’s not easy to stop using tobacco. But even cutting back some can help your teeth and gums. If you use tobacco and need to know how much damage that has caused to your smile, call us today at 603-546-7460 for an appointment.